Brian Beutler reports at TPMDC that Republicans have said privately that they will drop the rider defunding Planned Parenthood in exchange for more spending cuts. But as Pat Garofalo of Think Progress points out (and shows, graphically), the Democrats have gone more than halfway to meet Republicans’ spending cut demands:
President Obama has been saying throughout the negotiations over funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that he is willing to meet House Republicans “halfway” when it comes to their desired spending reductions. But Democrats have already agreed to far more than that, as House Republicans have continually moved the goalposts instead of cutting a deal to avert a government shutdown.
The original House Republican proposal for the rest of fiscal year 2011 called for about $30 billion in spending reductions from the 2010 level of spending. However, a Tea Party-inspired revolt forced Republicans to increase that total to $61 billion, which is the total that they passed in H.R.1. H.R. 1 was subsequently defeated in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said today that he would agree to $38 billion in cuts from the 2010 level, exceeding the level of cuts that the GOP asked for in its original proposal[.]
But Boehner is refusing to budge, although he claims otherwise:
This morning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the networks together and gave them an update on the negotiations (as I type this Reid is starting another press conference in the Senate). He said the issues have narrowed to one: abortion. Reid said House Speaker John Boehner is pushing a rider that would make Title X into block grants, thus enabling governors to do as they wish with the money. Most conservative governors would immediately defund Planned Parenthood. The group doesn’t use federal money to provide abortions — the federal money goes to mammograms, contraceptives and family planning for mostly poor women. But conservatives have never liked Planned Parenthood, which does, separately, provide abortion services.
Boehner’s office, meanwhile, issued a statement insisting that the riders were not the central hitching point to the negotiations. “While nothing will be decided until everything is decided, the largest issue is still spending cuts,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “The American people want to cut spending to help the private sector create jobs — and the Democrats that run Washington don’t.”
Reid was asked by CNN’s Brianna Keilar if he’d offered Boehner more money to drop the Title X rider. He said he had, but that Boehner had turned him down. This surprises me as I’ve always been under the impression that Boehner was using the policy riders as leverage for more cuts — that he never really expected to move the needle on abortion, climate change or health care reform. The brouhaha over the riders must be taken with a grain of salt as it behooves Dems to portray Boehner as obsessed with “extreme” riders rather than negotiating in good faith on funding the government. Given that even Michele Bachmann called on Boehner to drop the riders and just pass a “clean” one week extension to give negotiators more time*, I’d be surprised if the only issue at play here is truly Title X.
Of course, the two claims are not really in conflict. As both Jay Newton-Small and Brian Beutler make clear, Boehner is insisting on more spending cuts so he can tell his Tea Party base that he squeezed more out of the Democrats in exchange for dropping the rider.